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Disneyworld.

Where do I even begin?

We had an awesome time. Simon is an amazing little traveler. Just fantastic. He exceeded any possible expectations we could have had for a positive air travel experience. Basically, he rocked. He walked right on, found his seat, sat down and looked out the window. It was a huge sigh of relief for both Chris and me that he was ok with flying.

The DVD player and video iPod were key in keeping him happy and occupied. We also left really early yesterday morning so he was still tired and feel asleep fairly quickly on the first flight.

We stayed at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and it was perfect. With Simon's love of animals this was a really easy decision for us. We went with a safari view room and got to see giraffes eating right outside our window daily. Next time we go we will probably choose a hotel closer to Magic Kingdom - one that we could get to quickly. We rode the bus from Animal Kingdom Lodge to each of the parks and found that to be easy and convenient.

My sister Jessica was able to join us for the first day - that made the experience that much more wonderful. We hit the Magic Kingdom first. Simon was in heaven. We would ask him who he wanted to ride with and he always said "Jessie." We loved having her there.

For us, going at this time of year was the right choice. None of the parks were too crowded, lines were tolerable for Simon (we did have an access pass for people with disabilities and used it just a couple times), but the weather was not so great - including a major downpour just as we were getting off the bus at the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. We were completely SOAKED. Now, we are from Oregon and we are used to rain but man we were WET. Right when we were about ready to call it a night the rain stopped and we stayed for a couple more hours and had a great time. The fireworks and parade were awesome (the stage show at the castle was cancelled due to the weather). Seriosly amazing fireworks - Simon likes fireworks so it was all good.

We attened one character breakfast at Crystal Palace. We were totally unsure how Simon was going to react to the characters and the result: not his thing. We went to the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom for breakfast with Pooh (and asked for a table away from the action when booking). Simon LOVES seeing the characters from a distance but wanted absolutely nothing to do with them up close. We worked with him to just say "hi pooh" and then "bye pooh" (rather than screaming) as they came up to the table. The characters were great in that they did not push it at all and just waved and moved on to the next table. That made it all ok for Simon. (We had scheduled another character meal but decided to cancel and be able to do something else.) All about going with the flow.

Here were Simon's favorites:

1. The show right in front of the castle. We saw it twice. Got to see characters from a distance + music and dancing. He loved it.

2. Playhouse Disney @ MGM. So totally fun and interactive. 

3. Dumbo, Winne the Pooh, and the smaller kids roller coasters. He really loved every ride we went on. Both Chris and I were surprised at how much he loved the rides and was totally into and willing to try them out.

4. The big train at the Magic Kingdom. He was all over this one. He really wanted to check out the wheels - that was what was important to him - he was able to get close enough as the train took off (santa picked up a replica of this train in the gift shop) and was so excited.

5. Nemo ride at Epcot. He was grumpy in general on this day but he wanted to go again so I count that as something he enjoyed.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the week:

Each day we rented a stroller - a must have in our opinion. 

SEA WORLD

One of our days was spent at Sea World - another natural choice for us due to Simon's affection for animals. There were a couple things there that Simon really liked. First was this trampoline set-up. We watched a little boy go first, asked Simon if he wanted to go and he said, "OK." We were so surprised and delighted at his adventurousness.

While at Sea World we went to see the Shamu show - totally thinking that sitting in the splash zone up close (front and center) would be totally fun. NOT FUN for Simon. Hated getting wet and we ended up leaving early...fixed the upset with a treat of course and headed over to the cool play area they have right across from the whale stadium. He loved that area - including a cool whale roller coaster.

We also really loved the seal/pirate show. Lots of laughs.

Not sure that we will go back to Sea World if/when we head that way again. Glad we went and experienced it, but I loved the Disney parks so much more.

Food-wise everything was ok. Not great, but ok. We did get to eat right in front of the big fish tank at the Coral Reef restaurant at Epcot which Simon loved and was a really cool experience. Also enjoyed eating quite a few meals at Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge (convenient) and lunch at Rainforest Cafe in Animal Kingdom park. We signed up for a Disney Meal plan this time and I think that next time we will forgo that and just pay as we go. For us, it just became more of a hastle than anything (hated having to think about it). Also, next time we will pack some cereal/breakfast stuff and other snacks to have in the room.

By the end of the week we were all tired. It is so fun and exciting but just SO MUCH. Next time around we will plan a day just to hang out by the pool (weather permitting of course) and be around the hotel or watch TV - essentially just BE a bit more than the pace we set for ourselves. Most days we ended up coming back to the hotel for an afternoon nap and then went back out again in the evening, but even that was a pretty hectic schedule. By the last day at Epcot Simon was super grumpy and just plain tired so we cut the day short and hung out at the hotel before leaving early Sunday morning.

Overall, a totally crazy wonderful experience. Nothing like seeing your kid get so SUPER excited about rides and seeing Mickey and riding the bus and just having time to be together as a family. That was a huge part of it for us. There were so many moments where Chris and I just looked at each other and smiled as we saw the pure joy on Simon's face. That was what it was all about.

We will totally be going back again in a couple years.

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119 thoughts

  1. jen paddack-hyde says…
    12/19/2006

    I just can't get over how taller and older Simon looks! We just had a family vacation in Florida in June...not a good month to go there. Even my 11 year old daughter found Disney World to be too much:)Looks like you guys had a great time:)

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Anna Molina says…
    12/19/2006

    I'm so glad everything went well with your trip to Orlando (except for the rain)! WDW is great, but I am sure you are more than exhausted. How great that the park wasn't crowded, either! Get some rest and have a great holiday!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. noell says…
    12/19/2006

    Ali, there are so many wonderful things about this post. I've never enjoyed someone else's vacation so much!
    Amazing picture of the back of Simon and Chris looking up at the castle. Loved hearing about how aware you are of Simon and his needs/moods. Especially loved hearing about his joy. It reminded me of shopping with my three-year-old son yesterday. I couldn't get over how much I enjoyed watching him dance and splash in a puddle. Pure joy for all the other shoppers to see.
    There is just something so cool about the ages of three and four, when they're "big boys" with a bit of baby and a ton of innocence still in them. Love it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Jennifer says…
    12/19/2006

    Wonderful pictures! I wish I could have gone too!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. julie skinner says…
    12/19/2006

    What anamazing experience to give him! So neat to see the pictures and his happy face!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Suzelle Kasaian says…
    12/19/2006

    This just makes me smile :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Sally Whitemore says…
    12/19/2006

    What a wonderful time you had - I'm so thrilled that Simon enjoyed it and your were spot on - isn't it just amazing to see their face! Wonderful, memories to last a lifetime.
    I'm feel so bad as I didn't warm you about the wet zone at the Shamu show, Harry hates that too, just loves to watch the show from afar.
    Great to have you back too...

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Danielle Nilsson says…
    12/19/2006

    WOW...I'm so happy that your trip was an amazing one!!! Your little sweetie is so adorable :D

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Alice P. says…
    12/19/2006

    Glad you guys had a great trip and are safely home. I showed your pics to my kids and they're ready for another Disney trip. Can't wait to see your travel albums.
    Enjoy home and the holidays.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. kcompas says…
    12/19/2006

    sounds like you had a great time. dh and i were just there in Sept and we too wish we would have made time to just hang out at our hotel but we were so excited to check everything out, we didn't want to miss anything. i love the very last picture of Simon and his dad, that is PRICELESS.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Becky says…
    12/19/2006

    Oh my.....this has tears in my eyes. I am so glad that you guys had a great time and that Simon had a wonderful time.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Carla says…
    12/19/2006

    I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. I went UCF in Orlando and even worked at MGM for one summer so I am pretty familiar with Disney. I can't wait to take my kids some day. That will be a totally different experience. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. monique helfrich says…
    12/19/2006

    I'm so glad you all had a great time over there! When i saw the photo of Simon on the trampoline it remembered me to my sons therapy last month. He became so relaxed in a hammock, crawling all over, using it as a swing and talking... just kept on talking...
    Just had to share this, maybe it's also a way to stimulate Simon...

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Heather Crawford says…
    12/19/2006

    Whoa, Ali, I totally missed your blog postings while you were gone--a regular part of my day--lol--you can't go off like that again..lol..
    glad you had a great time--love the pictures--we plan on doing this in the upcoming year--can't wait!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. BonnieRose says…
    12/19/2006

    Ali u summed it up perfectly.. it's the joy u feel on the inside... so glad u made so many wonderful memories.. hugs

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Kristine says…
    12/19/2006

    So happy for Simon and you. Love the pics-can't wait for you to show off some scrap pages on these. Glad you all made it home safe and sound. Merry Christmas from VT.

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Tara says…
    12/19/2006

    Hey Simon, YOU ROCK little dude,, excellent adventure. I am 36 and Disney is still my favorite place on the planet.
    Ali, not sure but I think this is my first time commenting,, long time lurker. I visit your blog daily and reading about this wonderful adventure of Simon's brought tears to my eyes. Love the picture of you with him as he carefully looks at the characters from afar,, the careful contemplation on his face, that expression is, uh, I can't even think of a word. Thank You for sharing your life with us.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Dena says…
    12/19/2006

    OMG that last picture of Simon and Chris just brought tears to my eyes. SOooo precious!!!
    We took Zoe to Disneyland this past summer and there is just something about their age that just makes the experience so much fun. So innocent and just wide-eyed with wonder and they truly can believe.
    Glad you had an awesome time. Your pics are just fantastic but that last one!! that is PURE MAGIC!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Theresa V says…
    12/19/2006

    WOW! It looks like you had a great time! Thanks for sharing your awesome photos! I agree that Disney is definitely wonderful AND tiring and we always push ourselves because we are so excited. I agree that a stroller is a must even for kids who have out grown them at home. My sons also made the mistake of sitting in the slpash zone at a Sea World....not pretty! I'm so glad you had a good experience with all the unknowns for Simon. What an awesome guy he is! I will pass on the little book idea to my sister who will need that help soon.
    Nice to get your reply on the CK messageboard. You are awesome! I am sooooo glad you are coming to CKU-Detroit. See you in Detroit...if I get into CKU!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Jamillah says…
    12/19/2006

    I love to see DW. I have been to DL when I was younger. Your Simon is such a cutie, I am glad that he did great on your trip. Can't wait to see your Scrapbook for the trip too. Have a blessed day, Ali!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Dee says…
    12/19/2006

    How cool that Simon had a great experience. Makes it really worthwhile, doesnt it. And its always wonderful to have that time together as a family.
    Have a very Merry Christmas Ali. May you be totally blessed, as you have blessed and inspired me this past year!!
    Dee

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Bridget =) says…
    12/19/2006

    that last shot gave me goosebumps. absolutely fantastic!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Karmen says…
    12/19/2006

    Glad you had such a fantastic "family" fun experience ... especially with Simon too! Sounds like he had a blast!
    Could SOOOOOOOOOOO relate to lots of your thoughts and emotions ... watching Simon experience it all ..... and being so tired in the end. :) A "fun" kind of tired!!!
    Glad you had such a great time!
    Have fun packing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Denise says…
    12/19/2006

    How funny! Just caught a special on Travel Channel today about Disney World at holiday time (apparently it's the best time to go...less crowded and all decorated)!
    And, how is that BOYS get the most gorgeous lashes?! No fair. My little guy has the same beautiful eyelashes...so does my husband. SIGH. Good thing someone in the house doesn't need mascara :D

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Jenny~ MFM says…
    12/19/2006

    what a great post! Those pictures of Simon are PRICELESS, he us just adorable. So glad you all had such a great time, i love WDW!!!

    Reply 0 Replies

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